Hamden Arts Commission

Who Are We?

The Hamden Arts Commission is a cultural resource and information center, and a focal point in the community for activities in the arts. We present close to 40 programs annually, and also enthusiastically support the individuals and organizations that work to enhance the arts in our town.

The Arts Commission has been collaborating with the Town since 1981. It is composed of 15 volunteer commissioners, each a Mayoral appointment, who are assisted by one full-time employee, and one part-time assistant, in an office in the Miller Library Cultural Center.

The Hamden Arts Commission and friends with George Clinton, Summer 2017

The Hamden Arts Commission and friends with George Clinton, Summer 2017

Our monthly meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month and are always open to the public. Please join us! Call or email to find out where we will be meeting: 203-287-2546 or HDAC@hamden.com 


Ruth Resnick Johnson


Lois Jason

With her B.A. in theatre and speech from Adelphi University, Lois has had career stops in television production, public relations, advertising and theatrical publicity in New York and Philadelphia. Since moving to Connecticut in 1967 she has taught in Hamden and North Haven and worked at Yale. She adds “Since the early 80's I have been doing print, on-camera commercials, industrials and some runway work.”

She has been a commissioner since 2000 and is the current chairperson of the Commission. Most recently, she appeared in a HORROR FILM on Chiller Channel, where she screamed on camera while being murdered. And lastly, she was kissed by a Beluga whale during the filming of a commercial spot for Mystic Aquarium!

Sandra Schiff

A long-time commissioner appointed by Mayor John Carusone, Sandy has taught in the public school systems of East Haven and in Hamden at both the middle school and Hamden High. While at the high school, she started the SADD chapter and became a national speaker on the topic of "Single Parents and the Schools." She has published numerous articles on the subject. 

Sandy is the mother of two adult daughters: Debbie who has made her a proud grandmother and Karen who is an accomplished artist whose work has won national and international recognition. For the past twenty years, Sandy has been a travel agent.

Donna Elkin

A Hamden Arts commissioner since 2003, Donna is a mainstay of the Summer Concert and Sunday Series Committees and also takes part in all the other activities that the Arts Commission has to offer. Her interest in the arts stems from twelve years of study, and later graduate classes, with the Theresa Signores Dance Studio in New Haven. Especially noteworthy in her theatrical experience is that Donna and her fellow dancers from the studio once performed on Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour at the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York City. 

Donna has been a paraprofessional in the Hamden Public School system since 1993 and has been a paraprofessional at Hamden High since 1998. At Hamden High, she has been involved with the After-Prom Committee (since 1993) and has been its staff chair for the last several years. She has resided in Hamden since 1976, and has three children and two grandchildren. 

Cheryl Riello

Cheryl Riello has been a Hamden resident since 1989. She is a
graduate of Quinnipiac University. She has been a doll maker since childhood. This hobby led to a life-long love of the arts. As a young adult she took art classes at Creative Arts Workshop and John Slade Ely House. Later, she became a member of the New Haven Arts Council and volunteered to keep the biographies of member artists. In the late 1980’s she began publishing in national doll magazines
and that has continued since. In 1995, Jones Publishing Inc. published her book “Sculpting Dolls in Super Sculpey”.

Cheryl taught arts and crafts and “How to Get Published” classes at Hamden and Cheshire Adult Ed for many years. She has a blog titled “A Crafter for All Seasons”. Around 2000, her love of costuming dolls led to a passion for quilting and she became a member of the Hamden Quilters. Shortly after, she founded the Hamden Crafters. Later she became a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). In 2017, she became a certified Justice of the Peace. Cheryl is currently getting her Master’s in Writing and Oral Traditions. Cheryl was invited to be a Commissioner on the Hamden Arts Commission in 2013 and is having some of the most memorable experiences of her life.



Loraine Brown 

Loraine has been a Hamden resident for over thirty years, she is originally from Long Island, NY. She has a degree in accounting from Nassau Community College. She is currently the Program Manager for Young Audiences/Arts for Learning Connecticut and the proud recipient of the 2009 John T. Garrity Founders Award for her work there. Loraine has been on the Hamden Arts Commission since 2009. In addition to her active career and community service, she continues to pursue her interest in stained glass art.

Marita Gargiulo

Marita is an active alumna of MIT whose background includes training in baroque keyboard. She is an enthusiastic vocalist and poet who also writes lyrics and short stories. Professionally, Marita has a PhD in nutritional biochemistry and has been a practicing nutritionist and researcher. She has lived in Hamden for over twenty-five years. Her other interests include flower gardening, orchids, hiking and travel.

Janet Hunter


Nancy Torello

Nancy's background is in fundraising and event planning.  

Natalie Barletta

A lifelong Hamden resident, Natalie has always had a passion for creativity and arts. In 2016, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. In addition to learning about leads and AP Style, she was also drawn to class to explore her passion for creative writing.

Throughout her career, she has been published in several local newspapers and websites, including: the SCSU Odyssey, College Fashionista, Southern News, The Quinnipiac Valley times, and the Hamden Journal. Currently, she writes for CT Boom and Americanoize, in addition to writing for her own personal blog. "I enjoy being a part of the Arts Commission, because I enjoy giving back to the community that helped me develop my love for writing", she says.

Jorge Fernandez 


Charles Kortsep


Carter David